Mozambique: Transport Across Montepuez River Re-Established

Maputo Two speedboats promised by the central government started ferrying people between the banks of the swollen Montepuez river in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado on Monday morning, reports the independent television station STV.

The bridge over the river, built in the closing years of the colonial epoch, collapsed on Saturday, stranding people on both banks. The collapse also cut the northern seven districts of Cabo Delgado off from the provincial capital, Pemba, and from the south of the province.

The stranded passengers, including infants, spent two nights in the pouring rain without shelter, with little food and no clean water.

A few tried to wade or swim across the river with disastrous results. The strong current swept them away, and it is not yet known if they made it to either bank.

The speedboats can each carry 15 people across the river at a time. It is not enough, because more people are turning up at the river in the expectation that they will be able to cross. Bus companies are offloading passengers on both banks.

Visiting the site of the collapsed bridge on Monday morning, the general director of the Mozambican relief agency, the National Disaster Management Institute (INGC), Augusta Maita, promised that more boats will be mobilised to ensure that those who need to cross the river will be able to do so.

As for re-establishing overland contact with the northern districts of Cabo Delgado, the Minister of Public Works, Joao Machatine, said the government is looking into alternative routes which will involve lengthy detours via Quissanga or Meluco.

On Sunday the outgoing governor of Cabo Delgado, Julio Paruque, told reporters that an alternative route to the north of the province could be established in 48 hours. He stressed that President Filipe Nyusi is monitoring developments in Cabo Delgado, and that Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario has been in permanent contact with the provincial government.

Source: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique.